Iran set to emerge as formidable hegemon in Middle East
With the Iran nuclear talks coming to a conclusion, now comes the speculation of what the next step is. The details, although not yet publicized, give us a basic framework of some type of reciprocal deal that would benefit both the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States. Secretary of State, John Kerry, has negotiated terms with Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to tie up the resting issues that still need to be handled. This seems to be the hard part.
As political tensions begin to evaporate between the old adversaries, Iran, a regional hegemon, could potentially shift the balance of power to its favor. The deal would downsize the Iranian nuclear program, and in return the United States would lift sanctions that have been gradually placed on its four-decade old nemesis. Supply of industrial, economical and medicinal modernizing agents, as bargaining chips, together with resumption of oil exports, can help re-establish Iran's economic dominance in the region comparable to that of the Pahlavi Era.
The revamp of Iran can translate to a decline in the hegemony of the United States in the neighboring Middle Eastern countries. For years, the United States has come to the rescue of these countries in trying times, regarding political revolutions, attempted democratization trying to apply conceptual stretching for modern democracy therein. With Iran rising, Middle Eastern countries will have to balance and bandwagon alongside with a regional dominant influential nation, which has repeatedly denied and rejected attempts of the Western powers to democratize.
As per hegemonic precedents, we can suspect that Iran will supplant the United States as the hegemonic power in the region. With the demise of the goal of the United States trying to democratize the nation of Iraq, it is evident what once seemed possible, turned out to be an unfortunate mistaken reality. After countless years and unacknowledged failures sustained in the Middle East, President Obama has ordered to slowly withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. This slow exit of the Western military and influence can provide Iran an opportunity to expand influence as one country has its foot in the door while the other is stepping out of the door.
Comparatively, one can look at Iran as a Russian-style power of the Middle East in which both countries agree to certain circumstances but still have some hostility between them. The rise of Iran could call for more stability to the Arab world. Iran is in the same region where most conflicts have occurred in the past. Iran has been accused of supporting terrorism in the same region to sabotage the attempts of Western powers. As talks come to a conclusion and Iran gains relative power in the region, this, in turn, leads to the demise of strong American strategic presence in the area. For its part, the United States has to look for other power alternatives in trying to be the hegemon of the Middle East as the U.S. democracy building goals have failed to materialize. A new era may be on the horizon, from the Iranian perspective, to rein influence peacefully and affirmatively to the problems of the Middle Eastern countries with deep cultural foundations.
Iran has already showed its support for Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen in terms of standing by their political structures that, in the current regime's judgment, will produce governments devoted to political independence causing them to grow not only domestically but internationally, boosting the economic power of the region.
This shift can cause Iran to become a formidable power in the region. A new vigorous and robust $300 billion release of blocked assets can help the Iranian economy with investment in its future while minding its neighbors. Infrastructure would be built creating new jobs for Iranian citizens leading to better market routes of trade and distribution of domestically-made goods. It can reduce poverty and dependency on foreign goods while bringing inflation and unemployment under control. A domestically reliant nation, Iran has learned to sustain itself. With new openings created by the nuclear talks, Iran will have the ability to trade with the international community.
As markets and industries flourish in the country, morale would be boosted likely leading to more freedom and nationalism, which could cause an establishment of political parties and systems. This will translate into transparency, accountability and respect for human rights. Furthermore, this can spring Iran forward into a key player in the international field in the coming years. The shifting balance of the hegemony in the Middle East could sway in favor of Iran once the nuclear talks have been concluded. With its political changes domestically and inevitably, Iran has a unique chance to rise as one of the most prolific countries in the region and shine new light upon the Middle East.
Arash Irani is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science with a minor in history.